Your responsibilities as a commercial landlord in Jersey
In Jersey, we boast many fine premises in which to live, work and spend our leisure time. We take it for granted that these buildings are safe and insured, which is a testament to their professional and responsible landlords. Of course, things do sometimes go wrong, flood damage say, or an injury at work.
This is when landlords fall on the safety net of their insurance. If you have recently acquired a commercial property, or are considering doing so, you may have questions as to what is required of you and your Commercial Property Insurance policy.
What are my responsibilities as a commercial landlord?
As a commercial landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your buildings, contents and tenants are safe. If incidents occur, it’s usually up to the commercial landlord to address them, so having Commercial Property Insurance can protect you.
Here we look at some of the essentials of becoming a responsible commercial landlord, plus provide top tips on what your insurance policy should cover.
A responsible commercial landlord prioritises safety
‘Responsible’ is the obvious word here. When you choose to invest in places where people live, work or visit, you have an obligation to ensure that your premises are safe and secure.
As a starting point, you should conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards and put a robust plan in place to manage them. There are useful tools and templates on the government’s HSE website.
In the eyes of the law, the commercial landlord is accountable for the safety and maintenance of all electrical equipment. Failure to comply with guidelines may result in compensation claims against you or even prosecution. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure that inspections are carried out at the recommended 5-year interval. We would suggest that a responsible landlord should provide an electrical safety certificate, even though it is not a legal requirement at the time of writing.
Responsibility for gas maintenance is sometimes split between landlord and tenant, as set out in the conditions of your lease. Even if this falls to your tenant, as a commercial landlord you are obligated to make sure that Gas Safety Regulations are met. This means making sure that gas fittings are in a safe condition and are inspected annually by a Gas Safe engineer.
In any commercial premises, there is a named ‘responsible person’ who is accountable for fire safety. Legislation states that this can either be the landlord or employer. This is where a watertight lease is essential, clearly stating who the ‘responsible person’ is, and which party will repair damage caused by fire. It’s worth noting that in any communal areas, fire safety is firmly the responsibility of the landlord.
Commercial landlords must also take reasonable measures to ensure that there is no risk caused by asbestos, although generally, this doesn’t apply to commercial properties built after 2000. If it is discovered to be a risk, measures must be taken to manage it, although it may not be necessary to remove it altogether. Failure to take action can result in hefty fines or even imprisonment.
When it comes to maintenance and security, this is where a robust lease again comes into play. It is in your best interest to engage in clear and honest negotiation with your tenants, and agree who takes responsibility for what. It is highly advisable to use the services of a solicitor to achieve a firm and binding lease. With that in place, you can look to design your ideal Commercial Property Insurance cover.
What should my Commercial Property Insurance cover?
Along with the safety and security of your tenants, the protection of your physical assets and income are naturally your biggest priorities. Your commercial success will rely on you being prepared for a multitude of possibilities, from a leaky pipe to structural damage. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do from time to time, you need a guarantee that your finances are protected.
Your Commercial Property Insurance policy should at least cover:
- Buildings and Contents Insurance – This covers you against loss and damage to your building and landlord-owned contents, caused by unforeseen events such as fire, theft, malicious acts or storm damage. For complete peace of mind, you may wish to extend your policy to cover accidental damage, too.
- Business Interruption Cover – This is vital in protecting your rental and other income in circumstances where your business or property cannot run as usual. With the right cover secured, your insurer will make up the shortfall.
- Property Owner’s Liability Cover – If a tenant or member of the public causes themselves injury on your premises, you could be liable for compensation. With this cover, you have the assurance that legal fees will be taken care of.
- Employer’s Liability Insurance – If you are the employer at your premises as well as the landlord, this protects against your legal liability for injury to your employees.
These are the basics that we recommend your policy should cover, but there are various extensions you may wish to consider. For example, if you have recently acquired a property, you may wish to extend your cover to include any necessary alterations and improvements that arise.
At Jersey Mutual, we understand that all businesses and ventures are unique and will tailor your policy to your particular needs. Our policies are fully flexible and designed to fulfil the needs of a range of commercial properties, including restaurants, surgeries, shops, and offices.
Every business has different priorities, but in our experience when something goes wrong, they all have one thing in common – a need to address the issue quickly and reliably. When your assets and income (and that of your tenants) are at stake, there is no time for phone queues or delay tactics.
As a business owner, we understand and respect your need for swift, reliable action. When you are a Member of Jersey Mutual, you can be confident that your claim will be dealt with personally by a senior member of staff who shares your concerns. Our priority is to get you back to business as soon as possible.
For more information on what our cover provides, please see our Commercial Property Owners prospectus.
Trust Jersey Mutual to design your ideal Commercial Property Insurance
Whatever your plans for your commercial property, Jersey Mutual will work hand-in-hand with you to safeguard your investment and livelihood, and that of your tenants.
We have been trusted by business owners in Jersey for 150 years and as such have an unrivalled understanding of commercial property on the island. We will provide you with the assurance you need to further your investments, and stay on the road to commercial success no matter what fate brings.